Atari goes HTML5 and we can help you do the same!


    Not only can you now play HTML5 Atari games you can build your own! We’ve got code and workshops to help!

    centipedeSmallOkay I am going to admit to my age for a moment. I remember bugging my dad to buy me Pong. Pong was released in 1972 and Atari released and inspired many generations of gamers and game developers. There was a time you needed an Atari 2600 to play these games, but today with help from Grant Skinner (a Canuck who has infiltrated the upper echelons of the Microsoft development world) we are launching Atari Arcade! Pong, Asteroids, Centipede all done with HTML5 on Internet Explorer 10 (multi-player too so bring it on! my twitter handle is hockeygeekgirl, word of warning I used to rock at Centipede!)

    Now here’s the really cool part! Not only can you procrastinate by playing video games there is an Atari software development kit as well! Yup, I can’t wait to start playing with this! Just go the Developer behind the scenes section of the site and you will find all sorts of great JavaScript libraries and tutorials for building HTML5 games you can even leverage touch! ( Did I mention you can build Windows 8 games with HTML5 as well, just sayin’)

    Of course, it’s one thing to tell yourself, yeah that would be cool I’ll do it sometime. The best way to find time for it is to give yourself a little jumpstart, something to get you rolling. Well we’ve got that too! We’ll be doing CreateJS Workshops across Canada so you can learn how to build Atari games! Sign up here! There’s more details about the CreateJS workshops and the cool stuff Atari and Grant have teamed up to accomplish here and meanwhile to whet your appetite here’s a little behind the scenes video of how this all came to happen with some neat insights into Atari.


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    Hurry up and grab your name on Outlook.com


    Microsoft launched a completely new email service few weeks ago called Outlook.com

    Microsoft launched a completely new email service few weeks ago with limited ads, unlimited storage and built in Skype. It’s called Outlook.com, and it’s simple and clean.

    Does this look like your email address: thomas91@domain.com ? Have you been trying for years to get a good username for your email?  This is your chance! You might even get your firstname@outlook.com or your lastname@outlook.com, but you’d better move fast!

    Outlook.com has features like integrated SkyDrive where you can view and edit your documents and Image gallery from one place. Social media is integrated with Outlook so you can add contacts from your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Skype (coming soon.) You can interact and chat with friends from one place. My favorite feature is the newsletter and coupons handling: you can set options like “delete all my coupons and newsletter after 3 days”, or even “keep the latest email and delete the rest.” If you think about it, that’s a nice option, normally the older offers and newsletters are outdated when you receive a new one. By enabling this feature you keep your email clean. Check out this video showing the new outlook.com built from scratch.


    I’m on it . Try it out.

    - Outlook.com

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    Cool cloud stuff for Java programmers


    The Azure team has been adding new resources and features to make it easier to use put your Java code in the cloud

    It still seems weird to be writing about Java on a Microsoft blog. I guess times have changed. Not only can you write Windows 8 apps with Javascript and HTML, you can also find some great new resources to help you put your Java out in the cloud using Windows Azure. Windows Azure is Microsoft’s cloud offering, and every time I turn around it seems like they’ve added more new features and capabilities.

    If you are a Java programmer and are thinking it’s time to move some of the code to the cloud, either because you want to access it from mobile apps, or because you want to start up a small business but you don’t want to go buy multiple servers to set up redundancy and backups, or maybe like an unnamed student I know, you discovered your internet provider doesn’t take kindly to you hosting from your basement.  There are lots of reasons to have Azure host your code, that’s not the point of this post, I want to show you some of the resources to help Java programmers specifically use Azure.

    Where do I get all the details?

    Your first stop should be the Windows Azure Java Developer Center, you’ll find information about developing and deploying Java apps on Windows Azure. I’ll highlight a couple of the resources in this blog, but there is a lot more at the developer center.

    How do I put a VM running Java in the cloud?

    If that’s what you want to do there are a couple of useful tutorials to help you learn how to do it on Azure. The tutorials will help you set up a VM, configure to run your code and move your code to the cloud. By the way, No, the VM doesn’t have to be Windows Server. Yes, you can use Linux! Check out these tutorials for more info.

    What SDKs are there to help me?

    Take your pick, we have three SDKs you can download here

    • Windows
    • Mac
    • Linux

    There’s also a good blog post on the Windows Azure team blog highlighting some of the new features for Java in Azure including some updates to the plugin for Eclipse and some authentication updates.

    I just typed the words Mac, and Java in a blog on a Microsoft site, weird. Well, as a programmer I have always been a big fan of software that gives me choices and lets me choose how I want to do something, so personally I like this trend. The programming divide just got a little smaller.

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    planningYou’re building great functionally into your apps but don’t forget to the features that will make it shine on Windows 8.

    Some of windows 8 features are new concepts. As developers we need to become familiar with them and learn when and how to use them. Windows 8 has new features such as contracts, personalization, and different views. Using these features will make your app more metro and will help it shine, some of these concepts require mastery to get published in the store. In this post I’m going to give you a checklist of features you should think about during design and development on the Windows 8 platform.


    Windows 8 life cycle

    lifecycleIt's important to understand the life cycle process of windows 8 and handle this in your code. When a user taps on an application to launch it, it is activated and enters Running mode. If the user closes the application it will be terminated. But what if the user user hits the Windows key and launches another application, or simply navigates to another application? In this case, the previous application will go to Suspended mode. In suspended mode, the application does not consume any CPU,but it will lose state, so you may need to add code to remember state when the app enters the suspended state. You will also want to add code in the Activated event handler to reload state when the user returns to the application




    Implement search contract
    Let your users quickly search through your app's content from anywhere in the system, including from within other apps. And vice versa. For more info, see Adding search.
    Share Implement Share contract
    Let your users share content from your app with other people through other apps, and receive shareable content from other people and apps, too. For more info, see Adding share.
    play to Implement Play To contract
    Let your users enjoy audio, video, or images streamed from your app to other devices in their home network.For more info, see Streaming media to devices using Play To.
    filepicker File picker and file picker extensions
    Let your users load and save their files from the local file system, connected storage devices, HomeGroup, or even other apps. You can also provide a file picker extension so that other apps can load your app's content.

    For more info, see App contracts and extensions.

    Different views

    Full Full Screen  View - App fills entire screen
    Snip Snap View  - App is snapped to a narrow region of the entire screen
    Fill Fill View - App fills remaining screen area not occupied by the app in the snapped state.
    IC536102 - Copy Landscape View
    IC536102 Portrait View

    For more info, see Supporting multiple views and Choosing a layout.

    Engaging the user

    notifcation Toast notifications
    Let your users know about time-sensitive or personally relevant content through toast notifications and invite them back to your app even when your app is closed.Learn more about tiles, badges, and toast notifications. move to the 3rd app
    livetiles Secondary tiles
    Promote interesting content and deep links from your app on the Start screen, and let your users launch your app directly into a specific page or view.Learn more about secondary tiles.
    metro App tiles
    Provide fresh and relevant updates to entice users back into your app.Learn more about app tiles.
    more up
    animation Animation
    Use our library of animations to make your app feel fast and fluid. Help users understand context changes and tie experiences together with visual transitions. Learn more about animating your UI.


    settings Settings contract
    Let your users create the experience they want by saving app settings. Consolidate all of your settings under one roof, and users can configure your app via a common mechanism that they are already familiar with.Learn more about Adding app settings.
    Roaming Roaming
    Create a continuous experience across devices by roaming data that lets people pick up a task right where they left off, and preserves the UX they care most about, regardless of the device they're using. Make it easy for users to use your app everywhere, from their kitchen family PC to their work PC to their personal tablet, by maintaining settings and states with roaming.Learn more about Managing application data and see Guidelines for roaming application data.
    livetiles User tiles
    Make your app more personal to your users by loading their user tile image, or let the users set content from your app as their personal tile throughout Windows.

    Device capabilities

    touch Touch gestures
    Let your users connect devices, by physically tapping them together, to light up experiences where you expect multiple users to be physically nearby (multiplayer games). Learn more about proximity and tapping.
    camera Cameras and storage devices
    Connect your users to their built-in or plugged-in cameras for chatting and conferencing, recording vlogs, taking profile pics, documenting the world around them, or whatever activity your app is great at. Learn more about Accessing content on removable storage.
    Accelometer Accelerometers and other sensors
    Devices come with a number of sensors nowadays. Your app can dim or brighten the display based on ambient light, or reflow the UI if the user rotates the display, or react to any physical movement. Learn more about sensors.
    geolocation Geolocation
    Use geolocation information from standard web data or from geolocation sensors to help your users get around, find their position on a map, or get notices about nearby people, activities, and destinations.Learn more about geolocation.


    semantic Semantic zoom if you have more than 4-5 groups.
    Semantic zoom makes scanning and moving around a view fast and fluid, especially when the view is a long panning list.
    offline1 Offline mode
    Users to have better experience using your app, then your app should supports an offline mode where your application will load previous data.
    appbar2 Commands for a particular view/ page are in the App bar
    The app bar contains transient access to commands relevant to a particular view.
    screen sizes Scale to different  screens resolution
    Design an app UI that looks great on devices of various sizes—from a small tablet screen, to a medium laptop screen, and all the way up to a large desktop or all-in-one screen. See Guidelines for scaling to screens.


    For more information on what to consider when designing a Windows 8 app refer to the Detailed UX guidelines for Metro style apps. Happy coding!

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    How can a student in Canada get Windows 8 RTM and Visual Studio 2012?


    Windows 8 Start ScreenHow can students in Canada get their hands on Windows 8 RTM and Visual Studio 2012 so they can start building cool apps?

    On August 1st the Windows team announced they had completed the release to manufacturing (RTM) of Windows 8. The blog announced that developers could download the final version on August 15th with an MSDN subscription. But what about students on Dreamspark? Well students at schools who have subscriptions to Dreamspark premium are in luck, as of August 25th they can start downloading Windows 8 as well!

    If you haven’t explored the joys of Dreamspark yet, let me get you started so you can download Windows 8 and more!

    • How do I log into Dreamspark?
    • How do I download the software?
    • What if I don’t have Dreamspark Premium?

    How do I log into Dreamspark?

    If you have Dreamspark premium your school will have some sort of portal where you can login, for example, these are the portals for Concordia and Carleton University.

    Tip: I found these by doing a Bing search for “Dreamspark”,  “MSDN”  and the university names. MSDN AA or MSDN Academic Alliance is the former name of Dreamspark Premium


    Somewhere on your school portal you will find a link to login or to go to the Software Library. You will be prompted for a username and password. This will be your university email and password. Do not include the domain name in the email (e.g. for SusanIbach@Carleton.ca my username would be SusanIbach.

    How do I download the software?

    After you log in you’ll be redirected to the Dreamspark webstore. Where you will see a list of all the cool software you can download.



    If you want to develop Windows 8 apps, you will want Microsoft Windows 8 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2012, but go ahead and explore some of the other choices, this is a fun place to explore and try all sorts of great tools like Expression Studio for doing User Interface design, Visio to do your flowcharts and UML diagrams, or SQL Server so you can become a database guru!

    To get up and running with Windows 8, just select Windows 8 and you’ll be brought to a screen where you can choose whether you want the 32-bit or 64-bit versions, you can also choose whether you want the French or English edition.


    Select Add to Cart for the version of the software you prefer, and then you go to the checkout


    When you choose Check Out you are brought to the End User license Agreement. Do take time to read the restrictions, you will notice that under the No Commercial Use it does specifically say “You may however submit software programs that you create using the Student Subscription software to Microsoft app stores, including for revenue.” So yes you can use the software you download from Dreamspark to create apps and publish them on the Windows marketplace and you are compliant with the license agreement.

    You will be asked to complete order information including your name and email address, and the option of subscribing to stay up to date on the latest Microsoft events and promotions (not a bad idea, sometimes we have some pretty awesome promotions!)

    Finally you will get a window where you can choose to Start the Download of the software and you will get a product key to activate the software. You will be downloading an .ISO file, so you will need to burn it onto a CD, or find software that opens the .iso.

    Tip: Once you have installed Windows 8 on your laptop, you’ll be able to open .iso and .vhd files directly! One more reason to download and install Windows 8 !


    What if I don’t have Dreamspark Premium?

    Is your school entitled to Dreamspark Premium?

    If your school does not have Dreamspark Premium and you are part of a technical program like Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Information Technology, as examples, you should talk to your professor and see about getting your school subscribed to Dreamspark Premium, they can find the information on how to apply here.

    Does your school have Dreamspark Standard?

    If you have Dreamspark Standard, you can download Visual Studio, but you won’t be able to download the software for OS like Windows 8. So your best bet is to download Visual Studio and then download the Windows 8 90 day evaluation.

    I am a student but my school doesn’t have any sort of Dreamspark subscription at all!

    Just about any school can apply for Dreamspark Standard, so ask your teachers to look into applying here. But I realize not every school in Canada has Dreamspark (yet). So, you can email godevmental@microsoft.com and provide us with evidence that you are a student in Canada, and we can provide you with a code to access Dreamspark standard. This will get you lots of great software (like Visual Studio!) to help you get coding, but you won’t be able to download the OS software like Windows 8. That is reserved for Dreamspark Premium members. You can still download a 90 day trial of Windows 8 here.

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